The Washington Capitals are inching closer to securing a playoff berth. With an incredible 43-10-4 record through 57 games, the Capitals could feasibly have a star (*) by their name in the first week of March.
The NHL Trade Deadline is 1 week away, and the Capitals have some home cooking on their slate prior to it. The Capitals opened a 4-game homestand on Saturday night, and they defeated the New Jersey Devils 4-3.
This week, the Capitals will see teams that they do not see as often. They will get visits from the Arizona Coyotes, Montreal Canadiens, and Minnesota Wild. They will make a short 1-game road trip on Sunday as they visit the Chicago Blackhawks.
With lots of home cooking coming, let’s take a look at the Arizona Coyotes:
The Capitals and Coyotes met twice back in November 2014. Each team took a victory on their opponent’s home rink. The game in DC last year was a high-scoring affair, but the Coyotes were able to hang on and defeat the Capitals 6-5.
Who remembers this dandy goal Alex Ovechkin scored against the Coyotes? It is still awesome 10 years later.
This is the first of two meetings between the Capitals and Coyotes this season. They will not see each other again until April 2 when the Capitals take a trip to the desert.
SIZING UP THE OPPONENT: ARIZONA COYOTES
The Coyotes are beginning a 5-game Eastern Conference road trip in Washington D.C. After they visit D.C., they will visit Tampa Bay, Florida, and then they will swing back up to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
Arizona is a young team that is in the middle of a rebuild. Most of the club’s core players are all under the age of 25. Led by forwards Max Domi and Anthony Duclair and defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, this club’s youth is fun to watch. There is a lot of speed and skill on the ice with this group.
Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett has been in Arizona since 2009. He has a wealth of coaching experience, and he gets the most out of what he is given. He won the Jack Adams Award back in 2010 as the NHL’s Coach of the Year.
The Coyotes are coming off a disappointing 6-4 loss to the St. Louis Blues. They have really struggled lately, as they have only won 3 out of their last 10 games. Look for the Coyotes to be sellers at the NHL Trade Deadline.
WAVE TO THE GOOD GUYS: WASHINGTON CAPITALS
So, the Capitals have won 3 in a row. That is the good news. The bad news is, the Capitals powerplay stinks right now. They went 0 for 3 against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night. The slow starts also continued for the Capitals as they gave up the first goal of the game.
The Capitals are glad that defenseman Brooks Orpik is back in their lineup. Against the Devils, he scored his first game-winning goal in his career. He recorded a little over 21 minutes of icetime and finished with a 2-point, +4 rating performance. Let’s not forget that he also had 5 hits in the game, which is what he does best.
Braden Holtby did not have the best game against the Devils, but for once, his teammates changed the script and helped him out. Evgeny Kuznetsov was the major contributor in the 3rd period, and he really took over the game late.
There is some more good news for the Capitals. Jay Beagle is back at the main practice with his teammates. It is only a matter of time before he returns to action. The major question looming for the Capitals is that when Beagle returns, who comes out of the lineup? The Capitals will have a logjam at forward soon, and they might need to make some hard decisions right before the Trade Deadline in order to address this logjam.
Monday February 22, 2016 – CSN-DC, FS-A; 7 PM ET
Capitals – Dmitry Orlov: The 24-year old Capitals blueliner is having a career season. He has 5 goals and 23 points in 57 games for the Capitals. He recorded 2 assists against the Devils on Saturday night. He missed all of last season with an injury, but he has come back with a vengeance this year. Orlov has been playing alongside Brooks Orpik and they have been a steady 3rd pairing for the Caps.
Coyotes – Max Domi: The 20-year old Winnipeg native is the son of former Maple Leafs forward Tie Domi. While Tie Domi used his hands for fisticuffs, Max uses his hands for scoring goals. Max Domi was the Coyotes 1st round pick of the 2013 NHL Draft. In his rookie season, he has piled up 17 goals and 41 points in 58 games. He has scored 4 goals in his last 2 games. Max is highly skilled and is very crafty with the puck on his stick.
By George Foussekis